22 April 1998

Some Folk Are "Born To Smoke"

The news that some people are "destined" to be smokers will bring simultaneous dismay and relief to hard-core nicotine addicts. Dismay because it makes the prospect of giving up seem that much more futile. Relief because it's a good excuse not to bother trying.

Mounting evidence that certain individuals are "born to smoke" because they are inherently more sensitive to the effects of nicotine - particularly the pleasurable effects - will add fuel to the debate over tobacco advertising and teenagers. The findings of a new study conducted by researchers from the University of Michigan Medical School, published in the April issue of the journal Addiction, suggest that one in three kids who sample a cigarette will become lifetime customers. Which makes it critical to reduce the number of teens who try that critical "first" smoke, says the report.

Is there such a thing as the "smoking gene"? The study suggests it may be possible to identify a cluster of characteristics that go hand-in-hand with sensitivity to nicotine. Which could be good news for entrepreneurs. The race to develop a definitive test for genetic sensitivity could spawn products every bit as hyped as the evil weed itself. Are you a genetic smoker? Fail the test and smoke with impunity.